The heart of this article is who is better; Nuance PaperPort or FileCenter? The basis of this article is going to look at several aspects of both applications, functionality, cost, development and customer support. Both applications focus on document imaging management; scanning and research.
Both of these applications have a lot of the same type features, but how they’re presented and used is what makes them different. In this comparison, I’ll just be talking about some of the high points and low points of the two applications.
PaperPort Pro v14
Nuance’s PaperPort was a standard application included with scanners when they were purchased. PaperPort has been an application’s been around for a long time; used in homes and businesses. The last version of PaperPort was released in 2011.
The pricing structure of PaperPort has two levels, standard and professional. The standard version of PaperPort typically runs around $99. The professional version of PaperPort is normally offered around $200 [$199].
The user interface for PaperPort is very simple to use. Overall, the user interface for PaperPort hasn’t changed in years. On the left-hand side, you have the document tree, on the right-hand side, you have previews/thumbnails of the imaged documents. At the top, you have a toolbar that gives you direct access to functions that are most used, and at the bottom, you have another toolbar that allows you to drag the thumbnails to export options.
PaperPort offers integration with Microsoft SharePoint sites. Document images manage with PaperPort.
The image editing in PaperPort is probably what makes the most attractive. It has a mixture of being able to manage photos and document images. With editing tools like remove redeye and straighten page and allowing for annotations. All the options that you need for editing your documents are there and clearly labeled.
Nuance’s PaperPort hasn’t been released in about 5 years. Version 14 of PaperPort supports a wide variety of document scanners, but PaperPort does not take advantage of all the options that the application is capable of doing; meaning that the application does not take advantage of any kind of workflow processes.
PaperPort has had a history of less than par performance. Version 11 was extremely difficult to work with, especially with mapped drives. PaperPort dynamically creates index files for the thumbnails that are previewed. If there’s on existing thumbnail/index file, PaperPort has to create one, and this takes a lot of time.
FileCenter Pro v9
Lucion Technologies FileCenter has been around for several years as well. I remember seeing early versions of fall center when it was just starting out; it’s only a shadow at this point of where they are now. The developers for FileCenter have been releasing new versions of their software every year. The latest version from Lucion is FileCenter version 9.
As with PaperPort, FileCenter has two pricing structures; one for standard and one for professional. The standard version for FileCenter is $49, and the professional version of FileCenter is roughly $200 [$199].
The user interface for FileCenter is very similar to PaperPort. At the top, you have a toolbar in the file menu. The toolbar has some of the most common functions that you use from the application. On the left you’ll have the documents tree, in the middle you have thumbnail previews and on the right, you have a full preview. But it should be noted that the preview panes and the layout of FileCenter can be adjusted.
I think the main difference between PaperPort and FileCenter is that FileCenter loses that boyish grin and gives off more of a professional, we mean business, kind of interface. Because you see at the bottom, there’s no drag-and-drop toolbar; it doesn’t have that playful interface for ten-year-olds.
FileCenter has a lot of great features for getting your documents into the system. Most notably, FileCenter has a workflow process. The application allows for using blank pages, barcodes, OCR, auto document naming and it also has a mild auditing/tracking system with their folder indicators in the document tree.
I have always said that one of the most important things in using document imaging is making the import process of getting documents in the system as easy as possible.
With these features, FileCenter, makes the importation of documents that much easier, excluding physically scanning.
FileCenter has the ability to hold a set of directories on a regular basis to import documents into the application. PaperPort has this feature too, but not nearly as robust, simply because of the workflow process.
Because FileCenter has the ability to poll directories and then apply workflows, documents can be scanned directly from multifunction devices [large document scanners] into a centralized folder and have those documents automatically recognized and placed into a specific folder and automatically named [using OCR].
Based on my testing, the startup of FileCenter is faster than PaperPort by about 3 seconds.
And on another performance point, FileCenter is faster on rendering thumbnails. Unlike PaperPort, FileCenter relies on the built-in processes of Windows to index the files and create the thumbnail previews of the documents [doc, Excel, JPEG, TIF, PDF, etc.]. On this point, FileCenter clearly beats PaperPort on performance.
While FileCenter does have a lot of functions built in that allows you to edit documents, add annotations, add markup, OCR, PDF security, PDF stacking/un-stacking, etc. I just don’t get the feeling that the user interface was focused on enough.
One of my sticking points with FileCenter is that it doesn’t have any options for de-skewing/straightening documents. With document imaging/scanning documents, it’s a given that documents that make it into the system aren’t always straight; it makes sense to have that option available to users without having to rescan the document. This is especially the case where documents are not scanned but simply dropped into a folder.
I’ve been long time user of PaperPort, since the mid-90s. I’ve always liked the application and felt that the application was very easy to use. It’s always had a feel of a cross between document imaging and photo management.
Unfortunately, over the years, PaperPort has not been developed in a progressive manner. It seems to lack of direction. There’s a lot of features that PaperPort doesn’t have and I don’t know if this is by design, but it puts the application at a disadvantage over upcoming applications, like FileCenter.
The last release of PaperPort was in 2011. FileCenter has been releasing new versions of their software every year. The pricing strategy hits PaperPort directly in the face. FileCenter standard undercuts PaperPort by $50 on its matching offering, but if you move to the professional versions, things change drastically. For the same price, FileCenter Professional has more functions, options, and abilities than PaperPort Professional.
My conclusion is that because FileCenter focuses on getting documents into the system as easily as possible by utilizing workflow, OCR, barcoding, page separation, auto document naming and auto filing; and because of the direct competitive pricing. I think it’s the best solution, and it would be the application I would recommend if someone was starting out with document imaging.
Please let me know your thoughts on this, leave comments below…